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Northern Ballet: The Great Gatsby, London, March 2015


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Northern Ballet are back with The Great Gatsby at Sadler's Wells this week, opening tomorrow night.  Here's a trailer:

 

http://www.sadlerswells.com/screen/standalone?video=712407530001,2195788153001&show=1527&more=1

 

Link to a rehearsal video:  http://northernballet.com/?q=the-great-gatsby/videos/rehearsal-pdd

 

Video interview with Martha and Toby:  http://northernballet.com/?q=video/13-02-14/video-toby-martha-great-gatsby

 

 

If you haven't already booked, Thursday afternoon is the only performance showing much availability.

 

I'm seeing the performances on Wednesday and both on Thursday.  It would be great it any other Forum members who may be there said hello!  Please let us know what you think of the performance too!

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Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the dress rehearsal today - just one pdd to photograh, the 'Heavenly Space' das de deux with Javier Torres and Dreda Blow

16299415423_4736404e95_z.jpg
Javier Torres and Dreda Blow
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Javier Torres and Dreda Blow
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Set from DanceTabs: Northern Ballet - The Great Gatsby
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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The Great Gatsby casts

All casts are subject to change without notice.

London, Sadler's Wells

Tue 27 – Sat 28 March 2015

  Tue 24, Thu 26 (eve),

& Sat 28 (eve) Wed 25, Fri 27 Thu 26 (mat),

& Sat 28 (mat) Jay Gatsby Tobias Batley Javier Torres Giuliano Contadini Daisy Buchanan Martha Leebolt Dreda Blow Antoinette Brooks-Daw Young Jay Jeremy Curnier Matthew Koon Matthew Koon Young Daisy Antoinette Brooks-Daw Rachael Gillespie Rachael Gillespie Nick Carraway Giuliano Contadini Nicola Gervasi Jeremy Curnier Tom Buchanan Kenneth Tindall Hironao Takahashi Ashley Dixon Jordan Baker Hannah Bateman Lucia Solari Lucia Solari Myrtle Wilson Jessica Morgan Abigail Prudames Hannah Bateman George Wilson Isaac Lee-Baker Matthew Topliss Joseph Taylor Gatsby minder Sean Bates Sean Bates Kenneth Tindall Housekeeper Olivia Holland Olivia Holland Olivia Holland

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I saw the Batley/Leebolt cast last night. The characterisation was very vivid and totally believable with the exception of Leebolt who, I felt, was a bit too mature looking and sultry for the role (and she was lumbered with a rather unattractive bright yellow wig - but blond wigs on dark haired dancers are a pet hate of mine). I marvelled again at the brilliance of the simple sets which, coupled with the clever lighting, conveyed a sense of time and place so well eg late afternoon in a hot hotel room, dusk on the jetty overlooking the sea. Towards the end the ballet did get a little bitty but, as Nixon had decided to go for a faithful retelling of the story, I don't think that this could have been avoided. My favourite parts were the pdds for Gatsby and Daisy, the pdt for Gatsby, Daisy and Nick, the big group dance at the party under the trees and the pdds for Myrtle and George. The patchwork of music fits so well together and the last piece, 'I never went away', sung by Rodney-Bennett himself, is incredibly poignant and a brilliant way to end the ballet with Gatsby watching his younger self dancing with Young Daisy. I hope that NB will commission a DVD of the ballet.

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The response to this work seems to have been overwhelmingly positive (on here, reviews, twitter).  I think I may be missing something as I really struggled with it and actually left in the interval.

 

I think the decision not to have a synopsis on the cast sheet was a mistake.  It's been many years since I read the book, and I couldn't remember the story remotely well enough to follow it purely through the dance.  I was pretty lost for most of the 1st half - I'm not sure I even identified the characters correctly!

 

I found the choreography workmanlike, i.e. adequate but pretty generic and a repeat of the type of movement I've seen many times before.  I also found the staging and costumes didn't help, as they followed a muted colour palette (lots of cream and beige).  When you're not following the story and the dancing is a bit bland, it would be a help to at least have a colourful spectacle to look at!

 

I'm glad others liked it, this one just wasn't for me.

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I saw the Friday cast and had a mixed reaction. There were parts that I thought were lovely, such as the Pdds and the fantastic party scene - the men really shine in that. I agree with you helpop, that a synopsis was needed and I found part of the second half rather dull. The most confusing thing for me was the casting of Matthew Koon as young Gatsby with Javier Torres as the older Gatsby But with Hiranoa Takahashi as Tom - I had to keep telling myself the whole time that Takahashi was NOT Gatsby and it rather took me away from just enjoying their lovely dancing. My stand out performers were Abigail Prudames as Myrtle, Lucia Solari as Jordan, Matthew Koon as young Gatsby and then the fantastic young men from the party scene. Felt very sorry for the beautifully trained dancers who had to just March around the stage as waiters - soul destroying!

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I think that you'll find that the dancers who acted as waiters had plenty of dancing to do, if not in that particular performance then in other performances. Roles are shared around very generously as even quite senior dancers have to dance small roles in some performances due to the relatively small size of the company. I do think that NB has a lot of very strong male dancers.

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 Felt very sorry for the beautifully trained dancers who had to just March around the stage as waiters - soul destroying!

 

And some of the waiters in each performance include Young Gatsby (lots of quick changes there!), Myrtle's party guests and so on!  You will probably find that the dancers at NB have far less opportunity to be "spear carriers" in this company than in larger companies.

 

The waiters are there to indicate the wealth of Gatsby and are integral to the production.  They may not, as waiters, be dancing but they are nevertheless integral to the production and need to perform those roles with a commitment equal to that of any of the major roles.  As it happens I went to the dinner after NB's recent gala and the many waiters marched around in similar fashion delivering the food to the tables, pouring wine etc.  It just reminded me of this production.

 

Aileen is right that some of the senior dancers perform some of the cameos.  Kenny Tindall was a Gatsby minder, Myrtle party guest and policeman in Wednesday evening's performance and Toby Batley was the most nerdy of Myrtle party guests on Thursday afternoon.  It's one of the joys of watching Northern Ballet!

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I saw three performances at Sadler's Wells last week - Wednesday evening, Thursday afternoon and Thursday evening.

 

The two evening performances were led by Dreda Blow / Javier Torres and Martha Leebolt / Toby Batley.  Both performances, to my eyes, were absolutely magnificent.

 

On Thursday afternoon I finally managed to catch Antoinette Brooks Daw ahd Giuliano Contadini as Daisy and Gatsby.  Antoinette proved to be a bubbly, dizzy Daisy - she was absolutely gorgeous!  Giuliano inhabited the role of Gatsby.  Their duets had a real edge - especially the tango duet, which had me forgetting to breathe!  Jeremy Curnier gave a beautifully nuanced performance as Nick - he was every inch the gooseberry when Gatsby and Daisy met at his cottage.  Ashley Dixon, cast against type, was a brutal Tom.  Hannah Bateman absolutely sizzled as Myrtle both with Joseph Taylor as George and Tom.  The sublime Rachael Gillespie was young Daisy to Kevin Poeung's strongly danced young Gatsby.  Pippa Moore was terrific as Jordan too.

 

I think this production is very cleverly put together, staying faithful to the essence of Fitzgerald's novel.  Gatsby did not appear at his own parties but how do you portray that in a ballet - Gatsby seems almost other-worldly in the Charleston scene - not seen by the party goers.  The use of Gatsby and Daisy's younger selves is a clever device to explain the back stories and for Gatsby to explain things to Nick.

 

The Northern Ballet dancers look as though they are having an absolute ball in the Charleston party and it is a party I want to be at!

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Rather than start a new topic I thought I would mention here that there is a wonderful exhibition of "behind the scenes" photographs of Northern Ballet at the Cafe 164 Gallery in Leeds.  The photographer is the very talented Justin Slee.

 

There is a website that shows most of the photographs:  http://avantprints.co.uk/#

 

 

It really is worth visiting if you are in Leeds over the next couple of weeks,

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I went to see this production last week at Sadlers Wells and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much excellent dancing.

 

I only saw this Company for the first time for many many years last summer at the Linbury and was very impressed with the more abstract works I saw then and so was looking forward to seeing them in a more narrative or dramatic ballet and I was not disappointed....this company seems to be going from strength to strength.

 

All the main roles had been perfectly cast and at this evening performance Gatsby was Tobias Batley..... Daisy Martha Leebolt ....her husband Tom was Kenneth Tindall .....Myrtle was Jessica Morgan ....her husband George Isaac Lee-Baker ....and Nick ....the story teller in the book Giuliano Contadini.

 

Anyone who can make the character Gatsby at least a little sympathetic and even intriguing as Batley did has my vote!

In fact in tribute to these dancers they had managed to get the essence of each character across brilliantly as I did make the mistake of NOT buying a programme.....but I understood exactly what was going on(except in one respect)

 

This was a mistake because I'm only vaguely familiar with this story......Ive never found any of the characters that sympathetic...the last time a few years back as a radio play.....so I did misunderstand the ending .....which brought the ballet to its beautifully dramatic conclusion.

I couldn't understand why George had shot Gatsby and not Tom .......as it was he who his wife Myrtle was having the affair!!

 

When I got home I looked up the story to discover that somehow I had missed that it was Gatsby's car that had run Myrtle over and that George was never that sure who his wife was having an affair with .....just that she was having one with somebody!

He had jumped to conclusions and assumed it must have been Gatsby

 

So,then the end made perfect sense of course! But in the description of the characters I realised their individual nuances had been captured absolutely perfectly by Northern Ballet

 

Probably better though that if you don't know the ballet .....get a programme (I usually just get the cast lists these days)

 

Anyway a very enjoyable evening and hope I can now get to their Wuthering Heights somewhere as I don't think they are bringing this to London.

 

I'll also be getting another taste at the Linbury in a months time!

 

 

 

I

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  • 3 weeks later...

I saw the final three performances of Gatsby over the weekend in Norwich.  Gatsby has been toured extensively since it first premiered and it may be some while before we see it again.  We will certainly never see the big 5 roles intact in the first cast again with Kenny Tindall's retirement in a couple of weeks.

 

All three performances (of the three casts I described above) were outstanding.  At Saturday evening's performance - led by Javier Torres and Dreda Blow - the cast really let their hair down at the parties!  Myrtle's party reached new heights of drunkenness and made the violence Tom showed towards her all the more shocking.  I don't think I have ever seen the Charleston scene danced with more exuberance.

 

The party is over for the time being and I am so sorry to see Gatsby go ... let's hope it is not too long before we see him again!

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